Adam Duritz is like a painter who keeps visiting the same
subjects. In song after song, the dreadlocked lead singer of Counting Crows
makes references to carnivals, circuses, Hollywood, traveling and people
referred to by name (Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Potter, etc.). But his favorite subject
is loneliness. Time and again he sings about being alone, or the fear of being
alone or the things lonely people do to assuage their pain. Maybe that's why so
many young people hang on his every word, as if he were a sage offering
profound answers to questions about the search for love in a lonely world.
There are seven members of Counting Crows, including Duritz, but he's the only
one who matters. The rest just support his self-consciously arty and poetic
meandering. Duritz is the star, the tortured soul, the sensitive
artist who commands attention. The stage is obviously his domain, but you get
the feeling he is probably just as pretentious offstage. He seems to take
himself awfully seriously. While the Counting Crows are very tight and
talented, the music just seems a backdrop for Doritos's exercises in
self-indulgence. There's no unity among the singer and the band. The musicians
are just a bunch of guys backing him. He could get new musicians tomorrow and
his fans would probably not care or even notice. The Crows gave equal time to
new material and old favorites.
.......Starting off with an accordion-spend "Mr.
Jones" and a somber, near-acoustic version of the rocking "Angels
of the Silences," the crowd elevated to the ceiling, where they
remained for the band's 90 minutes. They followed with a beautiful, spare
version of "I Wish I Was A Girl." An equally restrained
version of "Omaha," with Immergluck on mandolin and Charlie
Gillingham taking center stage on accordion, was breathtaking. "Have You
Seen Me Lately," dismantled as a folk-rocking anthem and reassembled as a
pensive ode, was poignant and gritty. Duritz sat at the grand piano for
"Amy Hit the Atmosphere" - a classic Duritz epic about lost souls in
his adopted L.A. homeland. And "Round Here" was wildly
cheered, even if Duritz's free-form adaptation went on a bit too long. The
highlight of the set was the gorgeous, easy-rocking "Mrs. Potter's
Lullaby," which is so memorable you wonder why they don't trim it a bit
and make it a single. It's every bit as catchy as "Mr. Jones."
Another golden moment: when the two opening bands joined the Crows on stage for
a jamming version of "Hanginaround," their latest single.
Their laughter was infectious.
.......The shows last night are makeup dates for ones
canceled last December 13 when Duritz and other members of the band caught the
flu. But the two concerts here serve as dress rehearsals for a extended tour of
Europe, which starts next week in Ireland. One indication that Duritz is as
pretentious offstage as on was the opening act, Joe 90, a bland, superficial,
painfully arty band that is a protege of Duritz's. He produced the group's
unlistenable debut album, "Dream This," and he brought the
band onstage to perform with Counting Crows. Several members of the Crows made
guest appearances in Joe 90's opening set, which kept the audience (the few
remaining who didn't run for the lobby) periodically attentive. Those with the
patience to sit through Joe 90 seemed thoroughly